3 Years of CVP in the ET

What is CVP?

CVP stands for Cloud Video Platform.  It is the Employment Tribunal’s system for holding hearings remotely. It works very much like Zoom or Teams. The system was being developed by the tribunal when the pandemic hit. They then rolled the system out very quickly so that hearings could take place remotely which enabled the judicial process to continue while minimising the risk of infection.

Even though the pandemic has largely passed, the tribunals are continuing to use CVP.  For the tribunals, the main benefit is that they do not need to provide a room for each hearing which results in a substantial increase in the capacity of the system.  We have been involved in many CVP hearings over the last three years and, in the light of that experience, these are the pros and cons from our perspective, and our clients’ perspective.

The benefits of CVP

The main benefit of the CVP is that we and our clients do not need to spend time and money travelling to hearings in different parts of the country. We can simply log on to hearings from our own offices or even from our own homes.

During a tribunal hearing, a lot of time can be spent waiting for the tribunal while they read the papers or deliberate. In the past, that time would be wasted while we chatted with clients in the tribunal waiting rooms. Now, we can use that time to work on other cases and our clients can also use the time more productively as well.

Employment tribunal hearings are usually open to the public and the same applies to hearings on CVP.  However, someone who wants to watch a hearing on CVP will have to request the log in details in advance.  In practice, that means that hearings on CVP are less likely to be attended by the public or the media which means that the proceedings are less likely to be publicised.

The disadvantages of CVP

Initially, we were nervous about the introduction of this new technology but we have found it easy to use and, in our experience, it has not affected our ability to cross examine witnesses, to present evidence or to explain legal arguments to the tribunal.  If are taking part in a hearing on CVP, you can find out more about the technology and test it in advance of the hearing here: How to join Cloud Video Platform (CVP) for a video hearing – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The main disadvantages of the system are more practical. For example, documents cannot simply be handed to a judge as one would at a hearing in person. It is therefore all the more important to ensure that all relevant documents are included in the bundle and that the bundle is sent to the tribunal in advance. However, when necessary, we have found that Judges have been happy for documents to be emailed to them during a hearing.

Another disadvantage is that it is much more difficult to confer with our clients during a hearing especially if we are in different offices, which is usually the case. However, that can be overcome by setting up a WhatsApp group so that we can easily liaise with clients as the hearing progresses.  Liaising with the other side is also more difficult, especially if you want to have settlement discussions during a hearing but discussions can still take place by phone or email.

What does the future hold?

In general, employment tribunals are continuing to use CVP. However, practice varies throughout the United Kingdom. For example, we recently dealt with a hearing in Scotland. We asked the tribunal to list the hearing for CVP so that we and our clients (who are based in Lichfield) did not have to travel to Scotland. Despite the fact that it is a simple case, the Judge said that the practise in Scotland is for hearings to take place in person and the fact that we and our clients would have to travel from Lichfield to Scotland was not a good reason for the hearing to be held on CVP.

The tribunal are currently working on a new Video Hearing Service (VHS!) so remote hearings are clearly here to stay.  That system will be similar to CVP and so the pros and cons will be the same. 

If you are facing a tribunal claim, please email proberts@keelys.co.uk and we will be happy to help.

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